Reaction to Indianapolis Star’s newsroom staff restructuring

By now, most of the staff at The Indianapolis Star has been given at least an overview of the new staff restructuring in wake of the leaner (that’s putting it charitably) newsroom.

Though I wasn’t there today to enjoy the presentations, I was given a brief sneak preview last night. But I would be eager to hear your feedback on what you think, your concerns, problem areas, etc.

My first reaction was that if we’re going to have a staff as small as the one we do now, then we’ve got to do some things differently. Dennis Ryerson says this will afford people from all sections — features, sports, metro and zones — regular access to A1. In exchange, the metro folks who now supply most of the A1 copy, will have more time to work on more high-impact stories. All this sounds good. But we all know something has to give. Dennis says we will have to stop doing incremental stories and focusing on minutiae. But most of us know that’s never been the culture in Metroland, where the Feed-the-Beast mentality persists among the editing corps, who seem to wake up in cold sweats if they won’t have a full budget when they walk in the building at 10 a.m. Changing this attitude will be a key. Dennis also says he will be willing to draw in more good wire stories to help fill A1. That, too, has been an idea that has gained and lost favor several times before around here. We’ll see if it sticks this time.

Besides the open season on editing positions in the new structure, it appears that many reporters will have a chance to redefine your beats. This is something that you should give some thought to, for you will surely have to live with the consequences.

Perhaps the biggest change — and one frankly that I didn’t quite comprehend in my sneak preview Tuesday but that seems clearer in the light of day — is that Online is getting a bigger slice of the personnel pie. Lord knows we could have a better web presence, but if we continue to shift people away from print toward the web when print still pays most of the freight. The transition to digital may be an inevitability, but we just have to hope we don’t go broke before they figure out how make the web pay.

Those are my initial impressions. But I’m sure since you had to sit through the lengthy spiel today, you have better thoughts and more insight. I’m all ears if you want to share. You can leave comments with me on Facebook (Bobby King) or at my private email, robertkingster@gmail.com

Best,

Bobby King
President
The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild

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